MARS WINS DIRT TRACK WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
LAWRENCEBURG, IN (October 18, 2009) – Picking up his third $50,000 win of 2009, Jimmy Mars won the 29 th Annual Dirt Track World Championship Sunday at Lawrenceburg Speedway. Powered by VP’s Late Model Plus racing fuel, the 37-year-old racer held off Brady Smith for the victory—his first in the dirt late model racing crown jewel event. Trailing the pair of Wisconsin standouts to the finish line were Rick Eckert, Earl Pearson Jr. and Steve Francis.
Ray Cook and Mars made up the front row for the 100-lap event as Cook grabbed the early lead of the race followed by Mars, Eckert, Francis and Jimmy Owens. Cook looked strong from the outset pushing his lead up to three-car length in the early going on the sun-bathed race track.
It took Cook only nine laps before he started to pick up the tail end of the field as both Mars and Eckert sliced into his lead as all three cars were running neck and neck by the eleventh circuit. With 15 laps scored the top five from the onset remained the same as the battle for the lead was getting intense in traffic.
The trio of Cook, Mars and Eckert were then joined by Francis and Shane Clanton who had passed Owens for fifth on lap 22 and was on the move as the top five were all on the same straightaway of each other with a quarter of the race in the record books.
Cook held the lead until lap 28 when Mars made his move for the points passing Cook to take over the lead of the race. Once Mars was in front he started to immediately open up some distance between himself and the tight battle among Cook, Eckert, Francis and Clanton.
The first caution of the race flew on lap 34 for a slowing Jason Feger which would bunch the field up for a Delaware double file-restart. An exciting restart would ensue with Eckert clearing Cook for second a lap into the restart as Mars continued to show the way.
A long green flag stretch of racing would then see the front-running Mars continued to look solid as a terrific battle for second was going on between the cars of Eckert, Cook, Clanton and Francis. Clanton climbed to third around Cook on lap 46 using the low line on the race track as Mars continued to pace the field at the half-way mark of the event.
In traffic Mars saw his lead shrink as Eckert and the rest of the field behind him started to track down Mars. Eckert closed right up to Mars on lap 62 and the pair went side-by-by side for the top spot. For two laps the due raced hard with each other as Mars would carry his momentum off the corners to keep the lead.
Eckert then made a slide job move on lap 65 in turn four grabbing the lead momentarily from Mars, but Mars fought back and a lap later he was back out in front as Clanton stuck his nose in the hunt for the lead making it a fantastic three-car race for the lead.
Once Mars got back in front of Eckert, he picked up the pace and started to open up some distance between himself, Eckert and Clanton. With Mars back in control of the race the second caution would come out with 74 laps scored for Clint Smith, whom was about to be lapped by Mars, who at this point of the race had put three lapped cars between himself and the second place running Eckert.
On the restart Mars continued to show his prowess in leading the race as Francis became a player for the top spot as he passed Clanton for third on lap 75 and then started to put the heat on Eckert for second just as the third and final caution of the race came out for Brian Birkhofer with 76 laps complete.
The final restart of the race would see Francis get by Eckert for second as he then set his sights on Mars as a new contender was starting to emerge with tenth place starting Brady Smith who had been quietly running in the top ten for the entire race came out of nowhere as he was up to third putting the pressure on Francis for the second spot with twenty laps remaining.
Smith then hounded Francis for several laps finally getting by him on lap 87. With 13 to go Mars looked like he was well on his way to victory lane, but Smith quickly shot down that notion as closed right on the rear deck lid on Mars with ten to go.
Mars, who had run most of the race using the top line around the high-banked track, would see Smith gain ground on the bottom as he then moved down a line when he saw Smith out of the corner of his eye trying to pull even in the final five laps.
Moving down on the track was a smart move for Mars because it looked like Smith had the momentum down there and was going to steal the win away from Mars, but Mars was able to keep Smith at bay in the final laps as he went on to score an incredible third $50,000 win of the 2009 racing season. His other lucrative wins came in the USA Nationals at Cedar Lake (WI) Speedway and the North-South 100 at Florence (KY) Speedway, a race he won on the final lap.
It also marked another impressive win for the M-B Custom Chassis in which Mars and his brother Chris and fellow driver Brian Birkhofer have a made a staple in victory lane over the last year.
Completing the top ten were Shane Clanton of Locust Grove, GA, Josh Richards of Shinnston, WV, Tim McCreadie of Watertown, NY, Eddie Carrier, Jr. of Salt Rock, WV and Ray Cook of Brasstown, NC. Carrier was the Hard Charger of the Race finishing ninth after starting in 20 th.
In victory lane Mars couldn’t believe he held on for the win. “I had my hands full out there, I didn’t know whether to go low or high, the sun was in my eyes going into three, Ray (Cook) was awesome at the beginning and he and I had a heck of a good race there for while and we got around him, the here comes Eckert and Brady, I didn’t know where I needed to be here, so I finally decided to move down low, for a day race you couldn’t ask for a better race,” said Mars who became the seventh different winner of the race in the last seven years.
Mars’ M-B Customs Malibu is sponsored by Deppe Enterprises, Baileigh Industrial, BSB Manufacturing, Chevytown USA.com, Mid-States Equipment Company, T.L. Sinz Plumbing and Heating, VP Racing Fuels, Hoosier Tires and Integra Racing Shocks.
Smith who nearly pulled off the win said afterwards if he could have cleared Mars he might have been too able to be standing in victory lane where Mars was. “We gave it all we had I thought a couple of times I was going to get by him, but he did what he had to do, we had a good clean race out there, it was really a great fun race to run, he came down where I was running a few times and that was the difference, we are disappointed we didn’t win, we shouldn’t be ashamed to finish second against these guys today, he is one of the best if not the best right now, we’ll take second and go home and try to get better next time.”